We made unkeepable promises. To love and cherish till death do us part. In 38 years, our marriage has suffered many deaths. But no death more insurmountable than the one of our own stubborn pride.
We never knew poverty till after the promise. Standing at the altar of white linen and flickering candles, dim to what we were signing up for. Sweaty palms, smiling eyes, we agreed, “I do”— to a covenant we couldn’t possibly pull off. Pledging protection, our passions pointed at each other like heat seeking missiles.
Who stops for better or worse when happily ever after runs ahead of you?
One long year later — I want names. A full inquiry as to why this sacrament is allowed to continue.
Pride is a sin we can’t win. Though we try till our teeth crack and jaw snaps. That bully in our nature begs to bite back.
Remarkably, God, who resists the proud and gives grace to the humble — covets becoming one with us.
Jesus says heaven stoops low, loves enemies, speaks kindness to the cursing, gives goodness to the hateful, prays for the spiteful. And I’ve been busy, oh so very busy speaking my piece and dodging the truth.
So how do we start a life with Christ?
Consenting, “I can’t,” to Jesus’s proposal.
Pointing to the medals pinned to his lapel, the rich man pauses for Jesus’s pass to the promised land. Go, sell, give, then you will have heaven with Me. Jesus asks the impossible because a full-blown resurrection is the only possible way we enter the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world. Impossible me needs the God of death-defying possibilities.
Jesus demands our lack so we can admit what’s missing. When our eyes look longingly on our belongings, Jesus looks and loves—knowing we’ll never get this camel threaded through that needle.
“Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make known to me wisdom.”
Living with Jesus is leaving our pride. Leaving single-mindedness for oneness in Christ. It’s not an address change. It’s a heart deportation. Suddenly what was — is no longer. What appeared acceptable looks detestable. Rubies turn to rust and worldly wisdom sounds like rubbish.
Jesus lays it on the table before we take the plunge, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.” I can’t speak for you, but my feathers go up after a slap like that. Or maybe it’s the best kept secret in all of preaching. Would we rather walk soft with fatal flattery, or take the hit for saving truth? Honestly, honesty has saved my marriage, healed relationships, untied willful ways. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.”
We will never enjoy the Faithful and True avoiding the narrow and difficult.
Let’s confess what we cannot do. When we can’t budge one more inch, let’s gather and celebrate that not only is this normal, but anticipated by God. Can we agree our crippling conceit is God’s pleasure to straighten? And by the madness of His love our hearts get up and walk in ways they never could before.
“I love thee, Lord,
but with no love of mine,
For I have none to give;
I love thee, Lord;
but all the love is thine,
For by thy love I live.
I am as nothing,
and rejoice to be
Emptied, and lost,
and swallowed up in thee.”
– C. H. Spurgeon
Repentant hearts forsake pride and lock arms with He who humbled Himself for our sake. Experiencing a truth so revealing, we tremble at turning back.
Legally, we are betrothed to heaven, but before bodies get buried only the garment of God has power against pride. Living on His promises, we’re rich to resist, submit, speak, stand, sit, go, stop as the Spirit instructs — because no one stays the unseen course without the-God-Who-Sees.
When personalities clash and opinions push, our confidence swells and excuses take root. When complaining arrives and arguing persists, frustration and anger start banging on the door of our haughty heart — there is a perfect Way, a Truth, and a Life to have and hold so long as we live.